Fairland falls in regional
LOGAN, Ohio -- Things couldn't have started worse for the Fairland Dragons in the regional round of the girls' Division III Ohio State Basketball Tournament.
But the Dragons came storming back to nearly take the lead, then just went cold at the wrong time and fell to Johnstown-Monroe, 53-47, on Wednesday.
For maybe the first time this season, Fairland's junior standout 6-foot-4 Terra Stapleton had to face two defenders that were within her height range in Paige Cannon and Makenzie Spang.
Stapleton was double- and triple-teamed in the early going and couldn't find anywhere to kick the ball out.
"She's never faced anything with two bigs like that," Fairland coach John Buchanan said. "But I thought she did a good job of staying in the game, and she got us a big bucket down the stretch to keep us within two."
Johnstown-Monroe coach Carl Dufford said his team worked with former Ohio State and Cincinnati player Debbie Merrill to get ready for Stapleton.
"You have to come at her," he said. "She's such a great player you have to plan for her, and our girls did a good job."
Fairland didn't get a field goal until Chandler Fulks hit a 3 with 1:32 remaining in the first quarter.
It only got worse on the defensive end as Stapleton picked up two early fouls then a third cheap one with eight seconds left in the first half while she was guarding 5-5 Kerrigan Williams.
Johnstown-Monroe played sloppy, committing several turnovers, that allowed the Dragons to get some transition points and at least go into the halftime break within striking distance, down 25-17.
In the third quarter, the Dragons turned up their defense and rallied to take the lead, 35-34, courtesy of a Caitlin Stone 3-pointer, with 2:18 to go in the quarter.
Chandler Fulks also knocked down two 3's in the third.
"I knew they would make a run," Dufford said. "They're a good team and a well-coached team."
Fairland built on the lead, but went cold in the fourth quarter, allowing the Johnnies to retake a four-point advantage with under five minutes to go.
"We went through a stretch where we got a lot of good looks, and we just didn't knock them down," Buchanan said. "You can say what you want about the game, but in the end you've got to make shots and we just didn't make enough of them."
The loss ended Fairland's season with a 23-1 record.
Buchanan said he was pleased with the season, but the Dragons' program is at the point where if they don't make the final four in Columbus, it's not a successful season.
"This is two years in a row where we've gone out in a regional after 23 wins," he said. "And we've got to get through a regional semifinal and through a regional final and get to state. That's the expectation now.
"I thought their effort was great ... 23-1 is a great season, but the fact of the matter is we want to go to Columbus and win in Columbus."
The Johnnies out-rebounded Fairland 49-26.
They were led by Cannon in scoring with 22 points, and Laiken Valentine was clutch, scoring eight of her 13 points from the line, five of those coming in the fourth quarter as Fairland was trying to stretch the game out.
Johnstown-Monroe will face Fort Frye in the regional final.
Fort Frye handled Adena in the early game, knocking off the Warriors 66-47 despite two furious rallies, one that actually saw Adena take the lead briefly in the fourth quarter.
Fort Frye was led by Morgan Liedtke, who had 14 points. Liedtke, Brooke Borich and Shawntell Parsons were all lights out from long range for Fort Frye.
The regional final tips off at 1:30 p.m., Saturday, in Jim Myers Gymnasium at Logan High School.
FAIRLAND 5 12 21 9 -- 47: Stapleton 11, Fulks 11, Perry 9, K. Riley 5, Stone 6, M. Riley 3.
JOHNSTOWN-MONROE 12 13 14 14 -- 53: Cannon 22, Valentine 15, Natalie Carpenter 13, Spang 2, Williams 1.